Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today re-introduced the Access to Health Information Centers for Families with Disabilities Act. The bill will extend funding for Family 2 Family Information Centers (F2F HICs) for an additional three years, to 2016. These statewide, family-staffed centers assure that families of children with special health care needs are informed about the health care resources, treatments and services available for their children so they may make informed decisions. With the support of Pallone and Menendez, funding for this program was extended through 2013 as part of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
F2F HICs are state-wide organizations that provide information, education, training, outreach, and peer support to families of children and youth with special health care needs and the professionals who serve them. They are staffed by people who have firsthand experience navigating the health care system because they also have children with special health care needs, and are thus in a unique position to help families and children receive the best health care counsel and support available. Since the Centers were created in 2005, they have served hundreds of thousands of families nationwide.
"Figuring out the right healthcare path for children with special health care needs can be an overwhelming experience for their families. Family 2 Family Health Information Centers provide them with critical guidance as they determine what is right for the child," said Rep. Pallone, Ranking Member on the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health. "Sen. Menendez and I will continue to work towards helping youth with special needs receive the right care, and the Centers are an important part to making the health care system more effective and efficient for these children and their families."
"When our children are in need of care, the last thing we want or need to deal with is a confusing health care system. And that's especially true for the families of children with special health care needs who have to navigate a complex health care system to find the necessary services," said Senator Menendez. "Family-to-Family Health Information Resource Centers offer invaluable assistance, helping these families find low-cost, high-quality care that caters to their children's specific special needs. We must continue funding this critical program in order to help alleviate the burden put on families with sick children, while also reducing health care costs."
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) more than 90 percent of the families surveyed reported they were helped in finding or navigating community services for their children with special health care needs after working with the Centers. More than 90 percent of the families also said the Centers helped them to be more confident in getting health care services for their child.